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The Mississippian Initiative, Year 2

Location: Wisconsin, United States

June 1, 2010 to July 9, 2010

Application Deadline: 
Friday, March 19, 2010

Deadline Type: 
Exact date

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



University of Illinois

Project Director:

Timothy Pauketat, University of Illinois

Project Description

A six-week University of Illinois Field School in Midwestern Archaeology will be held this year at the Trempealeau site (in the beautiful unglaciated Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin, within the city limits of Trempealeau, WI), as part of the three-year “Mississippian Initiative,” funded by the National Science Foundation, and co-directed by T. Pauketat, R. Boszhardt, and D. Benden. It seeks to answer how specifically Cahokia altered the history of North America for centuries. This year, we will seek evidence from one of its distant likely outposts, the unusual hilltop complex hundreds of miles north of Cahokia. Our project will seek to discover whether Trempealeau was primarily a colony, a mission, or a group of Cahokian expatriates. Were the occupants primarily Cahokians? If so, did they engage locals on site? Were the relations peaceful or antagonistic? Is there a heavy emphasis on Cahokian religion or religious temples at the site? The answers that we find in the earth promise to revise how we think about ancient culture contacts, pre-Columbian religious conversion, and the basis underlying a period of apparent “peace” in the Mississippi valley between A.D. 1050-1200.

Period(s) of Occupation: Mississippian

Hand excavations, mounds, temples, Mississippi river

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 6 weeks

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

We will be staying in a hotel and a house in Trempealeau. Bring bedding (single sized cots/air mattress), eating utensils, your favorite cookpot, and, optional but a good idea: a foldable/portable chair. Students will be responsible for paying for their own food and transportation, but carpooling and communal cooking is the norm. Application is required, available online at following URL:

$200 fee for six weeks

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
University of Illinois
Number of credits offered 6


Contact Information
T. Pauketat
109 Davenport Hall, MC-148, 607 S. Mathews, University of Illinois
United States
Recommended Bibliography: 

Pauketat, Timothy R., Cahokia: Ancient America's Great City on the Mississippi, 2009, New York